The Australian Digital Landscape

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is located in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the world’s smallest continent, but sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA and Brazil. Australia is an independent Western democracy with a population of more than 22 million (89% urban population) concentrated along the eastern and southeastern coasts.

Australia is a society of people from a rich variety of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Since the mid-20th century, American popular culture has strongly influenced Australia, particularly through television and cinema, and as of last year, almost three-quarters of Australian households were connecting online through broadband.

Australia is currently one of the top ten social networking countries in the world, and is predicted to have the largest Facebook user penetration in Asia-Pacific from 2011-2014. As Internet usage increases, it is becoming increasingly important to find out exactly how Australians are behaving online, and to tap on this market.

More than ever before, the online landscape in Australia is at a turning point. While use of the internet has reached maturity, and online activities are ingrained in everyday life, a new dimension is gaining significant momentum including that of internet-connected mobile devices – Smartphones, tablet computers, eReaders, connected games devices or some other hybrid form that will likely emerge.

Total internet penetration in Australia (as at December 2011), was at 90% – just ahead of Netherlands and Denmark – and that Australia is the only non-European nation amongst the top 5 countries ranked by internet penetration.

Mobile Internet now reaches a significant proportion of Australians and, while current consumption is modest, intended uptake points to a surge in activity in 2011.

Smartphones are proving an important stimulant to all kinds of online activity – from social networking to simultaneous media consumption. Smartphones take share of pocket: 51% of online Australians aged 16+ now own a smartphone forecast for 2012 is 64%.

Following in the footprint of Smartphones, tablets are another potential game changer. The screen size of this device is already attracting a slightly different pattern of behavior to that of a Smartphone. Tablets – such as the Apple iPad – more than doubled to 18% of households – forecast to be 39% by 2013.

Social media is also continuing to grow, with new sub categories beginning to emerge, such as location-based services and social commerce. Australian consumers continue to increase their engagement with social media, particularly with the decade’s favorite site – Facebook.

Social media has truly been a revolution for online Australians, shaping the way we communicate, share, entertain ourselves (and others), socialize, form relationships and source information. It has revolutionized the methods by which consumers can connect with brands (47% of online Australians, up from 42% a year ago), connect with other consumers to discuss brands, and source other consumers’ opinions about brands (a significant 71% of online Australians).

In other areas of content consumption another revolution has been taking place – in the on demand, anytime, anywhere nature of access. Now supported by multiple device ownership, mobility, greater bandwidth, and access to a global pool of content, consumers are increasingly sourcing information, entertainment and other tools via the Internet. This is particularly true of entertainment content such as TV programs and movies.